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The Comeback

Well, it’s good to be back.  I trust that you are relieved and excited to see another one of my letters.  If this is the first letter you have received from me… welcome.

It seems that bad things happen to me even when I am in the United States.  I used to blame my troubles on Niger, but apparently bizarre events are no respecter of countries.  When I arrived home from Africa, I quickly bought a Saturn with tinted windows, good acceleration, automatic everything, and keyless entry. I woke up one Monday morning and walked slowly out to my car.  The morning haze hung in my head, and thoughts of grabbing a breakfast burrito from McDonalds passed through my mind.  I opened my car door and lost my breath. Half of my passenger seat was gone!  I looked more closely and realized that during the night my car had been host to a blaze.  Apparently, a wire under the seat had shorted and had caught the cushion on fire.  Fortunately, all of my windows were rolled up so that that fire burned itself out.  One open window and the car would have burned to the ground.  So, a bit shocked, I stumbled back into the house to make some phone calls. I had to explain the story three times to my boss before he understood why I wouldn’t be on time for work.

After of couple of days of finding alternative modes of transportation, I decided to contact the insurance company again to find out why they were being so slow.  I called the Farmer’s number and spoke with a lady who gave me some excuse about not being able to find my account number.  I was becoming inpatient.  I thought, “What is this lady’s problem?”  I looked again at my insurance card… I have insurance with State Farm.

A few days later a very nice State Farm representative called me to give me an update.  I was thinking that the car could be towed to a garage, the seat replaced, and the interior cleaned.  The voice on the phone said, “The fire torqued the frame and may have damaged the air bag system.  It’s totaled.”  Now I drive a nice, simple Chevy.

When I was a freshman in college, I had formulated a clear picture of my future and knew exactly what I wanted to do.  Most of the students preparing to graduate had no real idea about the trajectory of their own lives.  I thought that this was very irresponsible of them.  Then, something funny happened; I graduated.  I graduated and found myself clueless as to what I was supposed to do.  Since then, I have kind of taken life one year at a time.  Living overseas often forced me to be lenient with long term plans.  Someone recently asked me what I was preparing to do next.  I thought about it and realized that I now take life one month at a time.

When I left you last, I had just departed Niger and had plans of finding a job at Southwestern Assemblies of God University and finishing my graduate degree.  I did find a good job at SAGU and graduated in December.

I had always entertained thoughts of returning to Africa, but I wanted to do so in a different manner.  In the process of gathering information, I sought advice from a friend, Ken Isom.  He told me that he is the treasurer of a nonprofit mission organization.  Here is where this story gets somewhat complicated.  When I was a teenager, my church took a trip every year to Mexico to help a missionary family, Denzel and Rebecca Hood, and I participated in this trip several times.

The Hoods had opened a nonprofit out of Oklahoma in order to be able to give tax credit to their donors.  This is the nonprofit of which Ken is the treasurer.  I knew that Ken and the Hoods were friends, but it hadn’t dawned on me before that he would have any official connection with them.  I couldn’t help but think that maybe my conversation with Ken had been ordained.  I asked him his thoughts on whether or not the organization would be willing to extend their wing over me and send me to Africa.  He asked the board and the answer came quickly that the organization would be happy to help.  I would be the second vocational missionary sent by Friends of Faith.

I had previously been seeking out opportunities in Africa.  Two possibilities presented themselves, but I have decided to make an effort to return to Niger.  My friend, Boureima Boubacar, is a committed Nigerien pastor and is the director of a recognized nonprofit in Niger.  As such, he is able to invite foreigners into the country.  He has expressed his desire to have my assistance in supporting a small number of indigenous churches.  Also, over a process of a year or so, I would like to plant a small cell-church.

Sahel Academy, an English speaking school for missionary kids, is the school at which I volunteered when I lived in Niger before.  The Academy is in almost constant need of teachers, and I would make myself available to them.  I have also been presented with a future possibility of working with an orphanage.

In the past, I had been supported by a very faithful group of churches and individuals.  It seems that this time, I will be even more dependent upon the prayers and financial support of individuals.  I am also trying to schedule speaking engagements with churches.  If you are a pastor and would like me to come to your church to speak, teach a Sunday school class, or give a brief missions window, feel free to e-mail me.

The idea at the moment is to have a website functioning in a few weeks.  The purpose of the site is to enable you to have a more direct connection with my activities in Niger.  The current plan is to send a paper newsletter every 3 or 4 months.  If you would rather not get the paper later, shoot me an e-mail and let me know.  Hopefully, by the time you get this letter, the site will be working. 

Friends of Faith is a non-profit organization.  Therefore, your gifts are tax deductible.  At the end of each year, you will receive a statement detailing your giving history.

If you would like to support me, please fill out the enclosed form and mail it to the given address.  Please do not write my name on the actual check.  The information on the pledge form will ensure that the check gets to the appropriate personnel.  If you decide to support me monthly, please enclose a separate note (a sticky note will do) indicating that the check is intended for Jeremy Wyckoff with Friends of Faith.  If you go to the Bridge, you can submit your check and note in the offering.

I would like to share with you a few details about my budget.  My monthly budget is $2,000, and my cash budget for one-time or annual expenses is about $9,000.  However, I have decided that I can consider myself cleared at $1,500 per month.  Due to a previous gift, I am beginning my fundraising process with most of the cash budget already in place.  One-time gifts are appreciated.  Once the cash budget is completed, any additional funds can be rolled into monthly support.  For example, a $120 gift is equivalent to a $10 pledge.

In this process of returning to Africa, I have been confronted by various roadblocks.  Beyond the clutter of finances, the headache of people politics, and the chaos of life in general, I have been forced to construct a basic paradigm for my place in God’s creation.  I want to tell African Muslims about Jesus, mentor missionary kids, and provide aid to the poor.  I’d be thrilled if you could help me.